When we hired an MBA from the University of Victoria to do an audit of our internal processes earlier this year, we couldn’t have imagined how thoroughly her findings and recommendations would change the way we work.
Our clients thought we took too long and were too pricey. To find out why, our researcher followed a typical job through the Copeland system. She concluded that we were an agency designed to handle half million dollar clients, and that we brought that mindset, and its accompanying degree of servicing, to virtually every job.
We didn’t stand a chance with smaller clients and one-off jobs. So we implemented some major changes.
The most important of these was to empower our art directors to project manage smaller jobs. Now, our clients can go straight to the art director for logos, one-off ads, design jobs, brochures…in other words, they can by-pass the agency suits and grey hairs (I guess that includes me).
Our art directors have templates of questions to ask, depending on the job. These enable them to estimate the cost and delivery time, open the job and then crack the artwork out. They alone are responsible for interacting with the client. Upon completion of the job, we send out a quick online survey to find out how the things went.
The results have been galvanizing. By reducing the number of people touching the job and eliminating SOWs and contact reports, the new model has allowed us to slash our costs and delivery time in half on many smaller jobs.
Of course it wouldn’t work if our art directors hadn’t stepped up to the plate and taken on the added responsibilities. On the evidence, they seem to like it. It gives them more contact with the clients and a different perspective on the business side of things.
As an ad agency, we always try to make things simple for our clients’ customers. Better late than never, we’ve made it simple for the clients too.